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The Assembly Minority Conference

Gun Violence Emergency Declaration an Executive Diversion from Bad Policy

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

Earlier this week, Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order declaring gun violence a “disaster emergency,” representing a “first-in-the-nation” strategy to combat crime. This forced, contrived approach to solving a problem was largely created by the governor and his political allies – gun violence is a devastating problem that has spiked recently due to policies that have pandered to criminals, inhibited law enforcement and ignored the rights of innocent victims and their families.

The governor has tried to compare the public health disaster we are still overcoming to an issue that has nothing to do with virology or inoculation, but has everything to do with the state’s near-elimination of bail and massive parole expansion. The governor’s announcement ignores the fact that crime rates have drastically spiked across the state in almost direct correlation with the passage of pro-criminal policies that allow violent criminals to come and go from community to community virtually unchecked.

Prior to this week’s disaster declaration, Gov. Cuomo said he would work with anyone who could present a viable solution to the state’s surge in violent crime. Yet, instead of working with anyone at all, he issued another unilateral order and circumvented the Legislature. This type of governance has, sadly, become the hallmark of his tumultuous tenure as executive. Tackling this issue didn’t require an emergency declaration; gun violence and spikes in crime throughout the state should have been addressed through the normal process of government – working with the Legislature as co-equal branches of government and ensuring proper checks and balances.

Repeatedly, our Conference has offered a number of solutions to the governor and our colleagues in the Legislature, including the “Restore Order” package of legislation. It includes measures like restoring judicial discretion with respect to bail, requiring unanimity from parole board members when considering early release and additional reforms aimed at keeping violent criminals off the streets. 

New Yorkers have again been subjected to mandates and orders from the governor that deflect blame and miss the mark. This order is an admission that the Majority Conference members in the state have failed to keep New Yorkers safe. The substantial violent crime surge we are suffering through is not going to be “cured” from the governor’s desk. Instead, it will require a comprehensive approach to adopt and implement new policies that allow judges and law enforcement to do their jobs and protect the residents of this state. Criminals can no longer be allowed to thrive while law-abiding citizens live in a constant state of fear, watching their communities be destroyed by violence.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 19 Canalview Mall, Fulton, NY 13069 and by email at